Let’s Get to Know Johann Sebastian Bach and His Family

In this blog you will get to know Johann Sebastian Bach as the living, breathing musician, father, husband, and sometimes imperfect human being that he was.

You’ll also get to know his family:  Elisabeth and Ambrosius–the parents;  Maria Salome–the sister;  Maria Barbara and Anna Magdalena–the wives;  Catharina Dorothea–the eldest child;  Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel, Johann Gottfried Bernhard, Johann Christoph Friedrich, and Johann Christian–the surviving sons; and Sara Levy–a patron of the arts.

While doing the research and writing the story for our organ and media event, Bach and Sons, I found, as I know you will, the story of Bach and his family intriguing, engaging, and full of surprises.  Read on…

The Bach Family in Eisenach

(Elisabeth Bach, mother of Johann Sebastian Bach, recounts his first 10 years.)

I want to tell you an amazing story: the story of my son, Johann Sebastian Bach. This is the story of a precocious talented little boy whose name was to become known throughout the world centuries later.

Birthplace of JS Bach – Eisenach, Germany

My precious boy was born on March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany to my husband, Ambrosious and me, Elisabeth Bach. We are quite a family, we Bachs. The name Bach is nearly synonymous with the word musician around this part of the world.

The story goes that my husband’s great grandfather, Vitus, taught himself to play the lute to while away the time at his mill while corn was being ground for use in his bakery. Well, his love for his lute and music was so great that he taught his sons to not only bake bread, but more importantly, to also play wind instruments. His son Johannes got so good as a stadtpfeifer (city wind instrument player) that eventually he gave up baking and devoted himself to music-making.

Ambrosius Bach
Father of JS Bach

After that, right through the next generation and down to my husband, the Bachs have been and are musicians. In fact, my husband is very well known in Eisenach. You see he is not only a town musician but a court musician as well! He often plays his violin for our Duke and his guests at the castle. I am so proud of him!

Ambrosious and I have decided that our children must study music and follow in the footsteps of his ancestors. After all, there is no better way to make a living here in Germany than to make music. So, that is why we have made sure that all of our children are studying music.

Our youngest boy, Johann Sebastian, is already studying the violin and viola with Ambrosious. Ambrosious is planning to find a way to get our young son into the court orchestra as soon as possible. Our children are so talented. In fact, Johann Cristoph, our oldest, is now an organist and teacher in Ohrdruf where he has just married a wonderful girl.

(This story and the images are from the organ and multi-media and event, Bach and Sons, presented by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with media artist, David Jordan.  Visit bachandsons.org to discover more.)